To treat diabetes correctly, you and your healthcare provider need to know if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

While type 1 diabetes is developed from an autoimmune process that destroys insulin producing cells, type 2 diabetes is generally due to insulin resistance, the body's inability to use insulin effectively.

Your healthcare provider can determine which type of diabetes you have based on several different tests that detect certain antibodies.

Autoantibody tests

There are four common autoantibody tests used to distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes:

  • Islet Cell Cytoplasmic Autoantibodies (ICA)
  • Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase Autoantibodies (GADA)
  • Isulinoma-Associated-2 Autoantibodies (IA-2A)
  • Insulin Autoantibodies (IAA)

If you test positive for either ICA, GADA, and/or IA-2A, this is an indication of type 1 diabetes. These autoantibodies are detected in around 95 percent of people with new-onset type 1 diabetes. Children develop different autoantibodies and instead are tested for IAA.

If you test negative for all of these diabetes-related autoantibodies, then it is unlikely that you have type 1 diabetes and most likely will be diagnosed as type 2.

Why would you get tested?

When you are first diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor may order a combination of these autoantibody tests to determine whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. They may also order the tests if you were previously diagnosed with type 2 but have a difficult time controlling glucose levels with standard treatments.

For more on testing and diabetes:

Prediabetes: Tests and Diagnosis
Can a Blood Test Predict Type 2 Diabetes?
10 Tests That All Diabetics Should Know About